TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - Masri's detention, which follows Saudi’s move to fight corruption, has sent shockwaves through business circles in Jordan and the Palestinian territories, where the billionaire has major investments.
A Saudi citizen of Palestinian origin, Masri was detained last Tuesday hours before he was planning to leave after he chaired meetings of companies he owns, according to the sources.
He is the founder of Saudi Astra Group, which has wide interests in diversified industries ranging from agro-industry to telecommunications, construction and mining across the region.
"Masri was heading to the airport and they told him to stay where you are and they picked him up," said a source familiar with the matter who asked not to be named.
He canceled a dinner in Amman on Wednesday that he had invited board members of Arab Bank and business associates to attend on his return.
Masri could not be reached for comment. The Saudi authorities did not respond to requests for comment.
Confidants said Masri had been warned not to travel to the Saudi capital after mass arrests of Saudi royals, ministers and businessmen in early November.
"He has been answering questions about his business and partners," said a source familiar with the matter who did not elaborate nor confirm he was held.
Reasons for Masri's detention were not clear but political sources said the Saudis might have used him to put pressure on Jordan's King Abdullah not to attend a Muslim summit last week to discuss U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as ‘Israel's’ capital.
Masri, who comes from a prominent merchant family from Nablus in the West Bank.
Reports of his detention surfaced on Thursday in the local media in Jordan where Masri's multi-billion dollar investments in hotels and banking are a cornerstone of the economy.
He was elected chairman of Arab Bank in 2012 after the resignation of Abdel Hamid Shoman whose family had founded the bank in Jerusalem in 1930.